Doing Homework Is Better Than Shopping?

I enjoy having fun with my students as we study together and using humor as I teach. My thinking is that it is stressful to learn English while trying to make a new life in a new country/culture as adults, so a little humor helps reduce stress. An example? Yesterday afternoon at the Ukrainian church one of the questions during conversation practice was:

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“Which is better walk ten miles in a thunderstorm to go shopping or stay home and do homework?”

100% of my students answered it is better to stay home and do homework. I pointed out that all of them would rather stay home and do homework, so I needed to give them homework. They all laughed shaking their heads no.

Another question- “When did you come to Lincoln?” My answer- I came to Lincoln when I was three months old twenty years ago. They smile seeing my white beard and silver hair.

Another question- “What is your favorite restaurant?” My answer- My favorite restaurant is any restaurant a friend pays for my lunch or dinner.

Just a glimpse into my class at the Ukrainian church and other classes. I was grateful to be with them yesterday afternoon. My friend Alex, also one of the students, gave me a ride, My Jesus car is still not finished yet. Alex will give me a ride again this morning and after class drop me off at the coffee shop to meet with my friend Todd.

Tomorrow my friend Luis from El Salvador will take me to church for our conversation class and join me to worship after class. Then it will be off to lunch, but it will be his favorite restaurant because I will pay for his lunch to thank him for the ride. We have friends from Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela join us in class.

I am so thankful Jesus has blessed me with friends from so many countries. It keeps life interesting and fun.

What are your weekend plans?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My Christmas- Diverse Cultures- 1 Jesus

Singing Christmas songs like Joy to the World and listening to bible verses being read such as Luke 2:10, “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” have a meaning for me that is a concrete reality. This past Christmas was an example of that.

It started on Friday after my English class at the Ukrainian church. I planned to come home after class, but my friends told me the youth were singing in church that night, so I joined them. It was a blessing to watch the children and the youth sing Christmas songs in English and in Ukrainian.

Christmas Eve started off with having lunch with my friend Luis from El Salvador. Then we went to my church for Christmas Eve service and were joined by Alexey and Ruslana from Ukraine. As we sang songs such as Joy to the world and listened to Luke chapter 2 being read, I thought about the blessing I had of sharing Jesus with diverse cultures and Christmas Eve was one such moment. Christmas Day I went to the Christmas service at the Ukrainian church and then had lunch at Alexey and Ruslana’s home.

In the past Jesus has blessed me with sharing Christmas with friends from many countries such as Brazil, Bosnia. Belgium, China, Congo, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and more. So when we sing songs like Joy to the World and listen to the angel’s message of good news for all people, the all people part gets my attention.

It all underscores for me that there are many cultures in our world, but there is one Jesus who loves all people and died for all people, so they can have forgiveness and eternal life by believing in Jesus.

As I sat in Christmas Eve service with Luis, Alexey and Ruslana, that was my thought as we sang Joy to the World. I was there with friends from two other cultures celebrating Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

She Has A Laptop Now

A friend of mine receives slightly used laptops from people and works on them. Then he gives the laptops to ministries or people in ministry. I emailed him about a single mom from Venezuela I wanted to get a laptop for. Carmin came here with her son in August 2021.. She works hard at a Kawasaki plant here but has a thirteen year old son to provide for and also sends money to her parents. She could not have bought a laptop, but I knew it would help her practice English at home, make it better for her to video chat with her parents, and connect with her son’s school, so I wanted to see her have a laptop.

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My friend had a laptop for her. I picked it up early last week, It cost me nothing and cost him only the time he spent refreshing it. I went a Walmart. Yes, for such a worthy purpose I walked in quickly to such a place. I got a violet backpack to put her laptop in.

To have a little fun with it, last Tuesday I told her I had a surprise for her but I could not tell her the surprise because then it would not be a surprise. That gave her most of the week to wonder what the surprise was. Sunday morning in our group, I gave her the backpack and told her to open it. The look on her face was priceless. Then I showed her how to access things for her son’s school.

It feels like a Christmas morning for me when I can see my friends blessed like a few months ago when Samuel was given a guitar by an older couple from church. Seeing the joy on the faces of my friends is wonderful.

Tomorrow my young friend from Ukraine will receive a violin. My friend from church who is the Youth Symphony Director/Conductor will visit my class to bring her the violin. I am SO looking forward to see my young friend Ester’s reaction.

Seeing others blessed is a huge blessing. When someone blesses one of my refugee/immigrant friends, I view it as them also blessing me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Surprise Spanish Session at the Coffee Shop

Yesterday evening I was at my coffee shop, aka my office, relaxing after teaching my afternoon class. I was about to leave when I heard a group of people speaking Spanish. They were all Americans who have a Spanish club on Tuesday evenings at the coffee shop. Normally I teach Tuesday evenings, so I did not know about them.

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I walked over and asked, “ustedes estan hablando espanol?”- are you speaking Spanish- to which they answered yes. I asked if I could join them and they smiled and agreed. We had fun speaking in Spanish. The group was six retired people, so even though I was much younger, 🙂 , they let me join.

My evening class starts again next week, so sadly I cannot join their group again until December, but yesterday evening gave me a glimpse of life outside the classroom. I have taught in the evenings for twenty-two years, Teaching in the evenings has allowed me to connect with the diverse people living in my city. I can join any cultural event and people know me as the teacher. It has been a blessing, but the desire to have my evenings freed up was highlighted yesterday evening.

When asked when I will retire, my normal response is, “when I die.” That is in reference to my ministry. But teaching is so interconnected with my ministry, my thoughts on retirement also apply to teaching. But yesterday evening felt great. We will see what happens in the future. I draw my thoughts on retirement from Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

The only reason I am still in this earthly life is to share Jesus with others. It will be interesting to see how Jesus leads me in the future.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

That Was Fast- September Flew By

It’s the last Sunday of September already. It feels like I blinked and September flew by. The saying time flies when you are having fun seems to apply. This has been quite the month. Jesus has blessed me with many opportunities this month.

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It started with getting a car earlier this month thanks to generous people. That has allowed me to go to the Ukrainian church to teach on Saturday mornings. We have fun while studying. I love to see their smiles and hear them laugh especially knowing what they have been through.

My morning class started again this month, That certainly adds to time seeming to fly by. It is great to be back with the moms learning English, so they can help their children. They are going to decorate our classroom tomorrow, but something tells me they won’t want my help with that. 🙂

This morning I will see my Hispanic friends at church. We will practice English, sing a few songs in Spanish and pray. This afternoon I will go to a birthday party for an eleven year daughter of friends of mine from Mexico.

With all of this fun I have been having with my friends from other countries, it might be full steam ahead to Christmas. Did I mention there are only 90 shopping days left until Christmas?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Friday Kind of Vibe

Having survived my first full week of teaching, five mornings, three afternoons, and four evenings, when I arrived at the school for my morning class, I walked around saying, “Friday. Coffee,” to the amusement of my colleagues. Why do I have such a schedule?

Teaching ESL is my springboard into meeting people from diverse cultures. It is a patchwork of part-time teaching gigs, not a get rich deal, but it has allowed me to be known among the many people groups living in my city. It has opened many doors of opportunities to share Jesus with the world.

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So Friday afternoon is here and guess where I am. If you said the coffee shop, aka my office, you were correct. It is time to wind down, refresh, and get ready for weekend ministry. Tomorrow morning will be my time with my Ukrainian friends. Then I will go to our annual Latino Festival in the park. Sunday morning will be church and my time with my Hispanic friends in my Sunday morning group.

God has connected me with some new Yazidi friends from Iraq. My city is home to the largest number of Yazidi people in North America. They were oppressed in Iraq due to not being part of the majority religion. One of the first things I tell Yazidi friends is how much I love having Yazidi students. I might also happen to mention how much I love their food. 🙂

Before I came to the coffee shop, I did something for me. Now that I have reliable transportation, I joined the one fitness place that has an aqua track in my city. Aqua tracks are great for people with arthritis. My schedule will allow me to go there four or five times a week.

But now I am in my coffee shop, my coffee mug is full and so are my heart and soul. How is your Friday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Why She Cried In My Sunday Morning Group

Some years ago, a well meaning person at church asked a friend of mine from another country, “How does it feel to be in America?” The person was smiling and his question showed he thought it was better for my friend to be here. While it is true that I love living in my home city, having traveled on missions trips has shown there are good things in many countries. But the main thing is what feels like home. Imagine not being safe in your home country anymore and having to leave family, friends, and the culture you know and love.

That was the experience of my friend from Venezuela. She comes to my Sunday morning group. She is a single mom with a thirteen year old son. She works hard in a factory job to provide for her and her son and send money home to her parents in Venezuela.

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She left Venezuela because of the brutal dictatorship. Under Chavez, Venezuela went from being one of the wealthiest countries in South America to people not having enough food to eat. She left her family and everything that was familiar to her to come here for safety and her son’s future one year ago.

It has not been an easy year for her and she longs to meet other people from Venezuela. We do not have a large number of Venezuelans living in my city. We have many from other Spanish speaking countries.

Sunday morning we had three new guests come to my group, three young men from Venezuela. We practiced English, prayed, and then Samuel from Honduras sang a few worship songs in Spanish. As he was singing the second song, my friend from Venezuela teared up. She was overcome with mixed emotions. The song touched her soul. She was grateful to meet other Venezuelans. But she also missed her home-Venezuela.

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After we finished singing, she came over to me. I stood up and she cried in my arms. Then she went and got hugs from our three guests. I reassured her that Jesus is with her and that she is safe here. Please pray for her.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Prayers Were Needed/Prayers Were Answered

About a month ago, I shared a post- Prayers Needed that was about an email I received letting me know my current position would not have enough hours to keep my benefits and then my van died beyond repair. The past four weeks have been a valley time.

This week in a span of two days, it turned around. On Thursday thanks to generous donors, I bought a Hyundai Tuscon. Then yesterday I found out I did not get the position I applied for but my hours were expanded so I can keep my benefits. Even better, my current position pays two dollars an hour more and is what I actually enjoy doing. I had only applied for the position to keep benefits.

As Christians we are not immune to life’s problems, but how we handle them can be a testimony. If we give things to God and seek him through the down times, God works through us.

I am grateful I had more time with my friend Luis from El Salvador. He gave me rides home on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and rides to church on Sundays. Because of the extra time, he opened up about what happened to him in El Salvador when a drug gang tried to force him to join. That led to sharing about how Jesus understands trauma. That is one example from the past four weeks.

But now it is on to new adventures like the English conversation group that is starting at the Ukrainian church today. We will have many Saturdays together of having lessons and sharing life. I love helping refugees with their new lives in America and this group will be at a church that will share Jesus with them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Labor Day Weekend and Update on Books and Vehicle

Labor Day weekend is here. For my international readers, Labor Day is the first Monday in September in the USA. In our minds here, it represents the end of summer because it is our last three day weekend with warm weather. When I was a child, it was a sad day because it was the day the neighborhood swimming pool was drained and closed until the next summer.

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One Labor Day stands out in my mind. Over a period of about seven years I mentored/tutored a group of young people from Vietnam. One year they were excited to invite me to a picnic/barbecue they were having in a park. Fortunately for them, I showed up. The reason I say fortunately is because they were grilling pork ribs. They took them off the grill too soon. The meat was not cooked thoroughly. I told them, “don’t eat them and put them back on the grill.” They asked why and I explained about what can happen if pork is not cooked properly.

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My Labor Day this year is going to be spent online making sure I have all of the details about publishing my book on Amazon researched. Well unless I receive an invite to a picnic. 🙂 Now that my books are wrapping up, I have an idea for another one. So writing might commence tomorrow. My pastor is halfway through my draft of Jesus Understands Trauma. He told me he is “LOVING IT.”

Speaking of my book Jesus Understands Trauma, I chatted with a friend who is fluent in English and Spanish about translating my book into Spanish. She has agreed. After I publish it in English, we will work on the Spanish version.

I am blown away by the generosity of people donating for me to have a different vehicle. I will see my friend Doug this morning at church and talk with him about when to go look. As I sat at a bus stop yesterday, I took note of vehicles driving by. My one thought each time whether they would be easy to get in and out of. As someone living with Psoriatic Arthritis, that is a factor for me.

For my friends in the USA, I hope your Labor Day weekend is blessed and relaxing. For all of my readers, I hope you have a blessed Sunday.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Our Disappointments Can Lead to God Appointments

Sunday morning I got a ride to church with my young friend from El Salvador. He has been coming to my Sunday morning group since last summer. When difficult times hit, I have learned God is still at work around us. Sunday morning proved to be one of those times.

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My friend is a shy person, but he is always willing to help his teacher and he enjoys learning. Sunday morning as I shared in my post When The Teacher Becomes The Student, I woke up Sunday morning happy after dreaming in Spanish. That prompted me to teach about how dream can either be what happens when we sleep or our hope for the future.

Normally I have six or seven people come, but this past Sunday my friend from El Salvador was the only one. When that happens, I wait to see what God wants to do because it often leads to something significant for the one person.

My young friend opened up for the first time with me about what happened to him. In El Salvador he was attacked by gang members trying to force him into a gang. His dream was to become a math teacher in his country. That led to a conversation and time of sharing with him.

I shared with him about how Jesus understands trauma and that he can pray to Jesus anytime knowing Jesus will understand. We talked about how his dream of becoming a math teacher is not over. We talked about how he could volunteer to help other Hispanic people with math while he improves his English.

We had lunch together at a pupusa truck and talked some more. He also stayed for worship service with me for the first time. Now I am thinking I should get my upcoming book Jesus Understands Trauma translated into Spanish.

Our disappointments, such as my van dying, can lead to God appointments if we seek God.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.